LAUREL, Md. (WJLA) - Laurel Police are investigating a destructive, high-impact single car crash that took the life of a Baltimore woman Monday afternoon.
“Actually, the house shook,” recalls Muffy Updike, who lives just feet from the crash site. “They were having a hard time. The one ambulance person was in the car, looked like he was pulling.”
Police say a Nissan Altima, traveling westbound on Sandy Spring Road, veered off the roadway, clipped an electrical cable housing and crashed into a tree.
Witnesses say the collision, heard blocks away, sounded like an explosion.
“So it was a bang sound?” Elsie Pasaporte, a neighbor was asked. “Like a bang and then actually when I heard it I said probably our electricity will be turned off,” she answered.
Investigators say the 1 p.m. crash killed the passenger, 58-year-old Sunya Smith of Baltimore, and left the male driver in critical condition at a local hospital.
Police aren’t commenting on how fast the car was traveling.
David Bowen’s mother-in-law saw the airborne car through her kitchen window as she was preparing a post-Christmas dinner.
“The kitchen window's right there where the car is and this comes flying through the yard,” Bowen remembers. “Could you imagine that if you were preparing dinner and a car comes flying through the yard and hits the tree?”
Arriving first responders initially thought the injuries inside the Nissan weren’t from the crash itself but from something else.
Authorities later emphasized no one was hurt from gunfire.
“We now believe, and it's still under investigation, that other injuries that were reported earlier were a result of this car accident,” Audrey Barnes, a City of Laurel spokesperson told reporters.
Still, area residents agreed it was an unusual crash, on a straight road, with dry pavement.
“It sounded like the loudest slap of thunder I could’ve imagined,” Updike says.
2013-2016 Nissan Altima models are among the vehicles involved in the Takata Airbag recall.
Experts say when the bags deploy, they can cause injuries that may appear like gunshots.
Laurel police say the Nissan in Monday’s crash is a 2008 model.
Was the cause of the crash a medical emergency? A mechanical failure? Investigators aren’t yet saying.
But this deadly crash, in the midst of a quiet neighborhood, has left many people shaken.
“Shocking,” Bowen says. “You come to your father in law's house to have Christmas, and this is in the yard.”
This story has been updated.